A little over a year and a half ago, I realized my negative body image, unhealthy relationship to food, and lack of mental energy was holding me back from the person I wanted to be, the things I wanted to do, and the relationships I wanted to make. Even more, I was terrified I was going to lose the great relationships and opportunities I already had because I wasn't present in life and was instead consumed by a never ending to-do list, what I was eating, whether or not I should be dieting, how hard I worked out, and a constant stream of negative self-talk after almost always deciding I was never doing good enough.
I slowly started experimenting with new types of movement, intuitive eating, the psychology of eating principles, the relaxation response, and daily wellness strategies. Not too long after, I realized that I had actually been the thing holding me back all along.
Here are a few of the other things I've learned along my wellness journey:
- I was living one long to do list in place of my actual life, always thinking about what's next, saying "I'll be relaxed when...", or constantly worrying about doing this and then this and then this. It's important for me to practice the relaxation response daily, slow down, and fully live in each moment.
- While what I eat is important, how I eat and where I eat should be given just as much attention. For example, am I eating too fast? Am I distracted? What does the table I'm eating at look like? My body deserves to be treated well - especially when she's just trying to take in energy to continue working for me. Conscious and mindful eating is the first step, but directed action to change my habits must come next. Eating while I'm relaxed and in an environment I love is key.
- I don't like everything I thought I liked. For example, I don't actually like butterfingers bells, store bought queso, or those sugar cookies with the shapes in the middle.
- Every day is a new day to focus on new changes. There's no wrong or right way to move through a wellness journey. I can't fail if I keep trying. There's no starting over and I'm always moving forward with an opportunity to learn.
- Speaking with love is the first (and probably biggest) step to healing myself inside and out.
- It's important to accept my past, my present, and what I want out of a future. It's important to acknowledge and give light to all of my emotions and feelings, no matter how tough or irrational.
- I wish I could package up my favorite Christmas things and give them away. The smell of my mom's homemade fudge, the joy of Christmas music, the love in holiday movies, the comfort of a warm fire, and a beautiful Christmas tree full of family ornaments all throughout the years. This journey has taught me to take note of little treasures in each moment, instead of worrying about food, my body, or things I can't control.
- It's okay to feel unsettled. It's ok to not know what's next. It's ok for me to live with a little bit of uncertainty and let my body (& God) show me the path at the right time.
- Emotional eating isn't about food. It's about what's missing in my life and about what's not aligned to my desires.
- I can have a rough day, but still put away my pride and thank God for it anyways. Even when I receive news that makes me question my path, I can be thankful for the beauty I do have. Before I started this journey there was absolutely no gratitude for my struggles and on days of bad news I often avoided prayer. I was too stubborn, angry, and confused. But, it seems I'm finally realizing that if I didn't struggle, then I wouldn't have the opportunity to learn anything. And if I didn't have the opportunity to learn, then I wouldn't have the chance to improve my life. I want to learn, experience, grow, and improve. Then, I want to serve.
- Being free to eat anything I want doesn't mean I have to eat all the foods all the time. It's ok to choose high quality foods, too. After all, it's all information - my body signals, hunger, taste buds, etc. At the end of the day, I make a choice and own it.
- Not everything is about me, is done to me, or even has anything to do with me. Sometimes, I need to put my ego aside and realize I have no foundation with which to be mad, offended, or hurt. Times where I actually play no part in the situation.
- Before I can get all possible nutrients from the foods I eat, I must heal from years of stress, dieting, and external rules.
- Defeat and fear are the hardest things for me to feel.
- I've embodied a lasting journey to my destination. I'm exploring it all - no stone left unturned as I change my relationship to health. I'm seeing the ups and the downs as I figure out who I am, what I stand for, what I don't stand for, and where I want to go.
- Listening to my body is not listening for words, but rather looking for physical cues (expansion, contraction) or physical sensations (rooted feelings).
- I can be happy where I am and still desire more. It's not contradictory to be content now and still want more. Being happy now will not stop me from reaching for more.
- The greatest achievements in life are not easy. I can expect there to be resistance coated as failures, mistakes, or set backs. It's normal. This wellness journey has not been all roses and butterflies, but it is already paving the way to be one of my greatest accomplishments. At times, I've been confused, lonely, frustrated, doubtful, fearful, and downright exhausted. I've grown - and made mistakes. Uncovering what I actually want isn't easy. It's even harder to listen to those needs and make changes in support of them. I've resisted many changes (and will likely continue to do so) because change is hard. But, I won't stop fighting and I won't stop trying.
- I need to come to each day with a beginner's mind. With a "this is fresh, new, and exciting" attitude. Whether "this" means relationships, work, food, or family.
All in all, I've learned that my confidence is highest when I'm taking complete care of myself - body mind and soul. It actually has nothing to do with my weight. My confidence level has everything to do with whether or not I'm eating beautifully, relaxing daily, speaking with gratitude, exercising consistently, practicing quality self-care, and living fully. That is a beautiful thing to know.
What you have you learned from your wellness journey?